The everything guide to the US Passport application process

Passport Information for Adopted Children

If you have an adopted child, it will require a few additional pieces of documentation depending on the circumstance of the adoption. In addition to information pertaining to how to get a passport for an adopted child,, this article also covers getting a passport for a foster child.

For general information related to child passports, see: Child Passport Information

Obtaining a passport for an adopted or foster child can be a multi-layered process. Many times, the adoptive or foster parents are not in possession of the correct paperwork, and they must go to numerous agencies to obtain certified copies of the documents, or, in some cases, acceptable forms of secondary documentation before applying for the passport itself.  This could become quite time consuming, so it is recommended that parents or legal guardians of these children begin the passport application process as early as possible when planning to travel outside the United States.

Applying for a passport for an adopted child

The first step in applying for a U.S. passport is to establish the child’s U.S. citizenship. Usually, a birth certificate is all that is required as proof of citizenship. But for parents who have adopted children, particularly in foreign countries, or have foster children in their care, a birth certificate may not be available and other documentation must be presented. The following details the procedures for each instance of obtaining passports for non-biological children.

Passports for Children Adopted Overseas

The Child Citizenship Act went into effect on February 27, 2001 and grants U.S. citizenship automatically to children meeting the following criteria:

  • One parent is a native born or naturalized citizen of the United States
  • The child lives permanently in the United States with above mentioned parent
  • The child is given lawful permanent resident (LPR) status
  • The child has not yet reached his or her 18th birthday
  • Adoption has been finalized

Children adopted abroad who have already reached their 18th birthday must go through the naturalization process to obtain citizenship before applying for an adult U.S. passport.

To obtain a U.S. passport for the adopted child who falls under the Child Citizenship Act, the following documentation must be provided:

  • A copy of the final adoption decree.  This must be a certified copy and must be translated into English.
  • The child’s original passport from their birth country with an I-551 stamp or the child’s green card
  • The adoptive parents’ proof of identity

While a Certificate of Citizenship is not required for passport applications for children who fall under the Child Citizenship Act, it is strongly recommended that one be acquired for the child within one year of the adoption to prevent the child from having problems in the future. Adoptive parents simply need to file a N-600 form with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to obtain this certificate. This form can be found at

Passports for Children Adopted Within the United States

Adoptive parents of a child under the age of 18 who was born in the United States must present the following paperwork when applying for the child’s passport:

  • A certified birth certificate. As of April, 2011, birth certificates must list the child’s name, date of birth, place of birth and both parents full names in order to be used as proof of citizenship and identification. Adoptive parents can apply for an amended birth certificate, but there is often a significant waiting period to obtain it.
  • If a certified copy of the child’s birth certificate is not available, secondary evidence of citizenship must be provided. Early public records, including a baptismal certificate, early school record, hospital birth certificate, a doctor’s record of care, or a certified adoption decree, can be used. A Letter of No Record which can be obtained from the child’s birth state’s Office of Vital Statistics must also accompany any of the other documents.
  • The certified adoption decree is also proof of the child’s relationship to the parents. The adoptive parents must provide photo identification.

Passports for Children in Foster Care

When a child in a state’s foster care system requires a passport, the same requirements as mentioned above apply for proof of citizenship. Foster parents are advised to contact their Child Protective Service’s case worker when applying for a passport. This will help them secure any required documentation that is not already in their possession. A letter from a judge authorizing the child’s travel out of the country must also be included. If the child’s biological parents can be contacted, they must also provide a letter of authorization for the foster parents to travel with the child.

For both adopted and foster care children, the following documents are also required when applying for a passport:

  • A completed DS-11 application form. This can be downloaded here.
  • Two 2×2 passport photos
  • Fees: $80.00 application fee and a $25.00 processing fee. The fees may be paid via credit card, check, money order, or exact amount in cash. Change will not be given.

Adoptive or foster care parents, along with the minor child, must apply for the passport in person.

Due to any possible complications that may arise, it is recommended that these parents go directly to a Passport Acceptance Facility, rather than a post office location, as the personnel have more experience dealing with more complicated applications. If both parents are unable to be there, one of the following documents must accompany the application:

  • A notarized DS-3053 Statement of Consent form with item #3 completed and signed by the absent parent. A photocopy of both front and back sides of the identification provided to the notary must also be included.
  • If the non-applying parent is completely unavailable, then form DS-5525 Statement of Exigent/Special Family Circumstances must be completed.

It should be noted that minor children ages 16 and 17 with the proper identification and paperwork are able to apply for a passport without parents.

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